On January 23, 2020, staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation issued a special legal notice to the Swedish Medical Center employees who were negatively affected by the strike organized by Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) 1199NW officials on January 28.
This strike announcement came right after Swedish Medical Center and union officials failed to approve a new monopoly bargaining contract, according to a previous report on January 17. The legal notice informed rank-and-file Swedish Medical Center workers of the rights SEIU bosses wouldn’t inform them about. These rights include the right to refuse to abandon their patients and to continue working to help their families despite the union-led strike. The notice pointed out why workers across the nation frequently seek National Right to Work Foundation’s free legal aid in similar situations like these.
“This strike raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike,” the notice reads. “Employees have the legal right to rebuff union officials’ strike demands, but it is important for them to be fully informed before they do so.”
The full notice can be read here: www.nrtw.org/SMC-Strike.
The notice gives a step-by-step process that Swedish Medical Center nurses and other employees should follow if they want to assert their right to return to work during the strike and avoid repercussions from union bosses. It also featured sample union membership resignation letters.
The notice also informs the employees of their right to stop paying union dues when no monopoly bargaining contract is present between the hospital and the SEIU, and their right to pay partial dues that are only relevant to bargaining once the strike concluded, under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. The notice encouraged employees to turn to free legal aid from the Foundation if they experienced union pushback in their attempts to exercise any of these rights.
SEIU 1199NW bosses are currently facing federal charges from Swedish Medical Center workers, who argue that the bosses infringed on their Beck rights and illegally rejected requests to seize dues payments while there was no monopoly bargaining contract in place. Back in October 2019, SEIU 775NW officials were compelled to settle a federal case and return over $3 million to home-based healthcare providers in the state who claimed in the lawsuit that the SEIU had diverted a portion of Medicaid payments from them to the union, which represented a violation of their statutory and constitutional rights.
“Given Washington State SEIU bosses’ repeated flouting of even the most basic employee rights protections, it is understandable that Swedish Medical Center employees may question whether the upcoming union-ordered strike is really what is best for themselves, their families, and their patients,” remarked National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Swedish Medical Center employees should know they unequivocally have the right to resign their union memberships and avoid all union fee demands and strike orders in the absence of a contract.”
“Should SEIU bosses again refuse to comply with Swedish Medical Center employees’ legal rights, we encourage rank-and-file workers to immediately contact the Foundation for free legal aid,” continued Mix.